Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is Attitude?

What is an attitude:

Merriamwebster.com: "Attitude: a : a mental position with regard to a fact or state; b : a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state."

I'll be honest - when I got the definition, I just sat and looked at it for a minute. That is not at all what I was expecting as a definition.

Two parts: 1) A mental position or a feeling; 2) a fact or state.

The language implications boggle the mind. Note that the mental position is "with regard" to a fact or state, while the feeling or emotion is "toward" a fact or state. There's a separation there, subtle but present.

Why? I think the reason is that the difference lies in whether the attitude is a mental position or a feeling.

A mental position implies that at least some level of thinking/reasoning has gone into the formation of that attitude (even if it's bad thinking). Feeling is an emotional reaction that more often than not is simply arrived at without thinking/reasoning.

The difference is that emotions can change with one's circumstances, physical state, or even the cast of the sunlight in a particular moment, while mental positions (if correctly done) are not subject to the vicissitudes of such events because they have been founded on a thought or reason which can discount the temporary circumstances because they are focused on the fact or state regardless of temporary interruptions or circumstances.

In that light, how many attitudes have I known - indeed, how many have I personally exhibited - that are based on feelings? How many of these were mistakenly believed to have been built on reason or thinking?

But that of course implies that the attitudes are arrived by thought and reason - can I truly say that I have made that effort in my life? If not, why not?

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